Monday, September 08, 2008

Raleigh N&O editor’s blatantly partisan email (updated)

Error Alert: N&O Executive Editor John Drescher is not the author of the email discussed below. Senior Editor Linda Williams is.

I'll say more this evening. Right now I just want to correct as quickly as possible.

I regret my error which was based on information given to me by people who have been reliable in the past.

I'll be sending a note to Drescher acknowledging and apologizing for my error.


Readers who complain to the McClatchy Company’s Raleigh News & Observer about the paper’s blatant liberal/leftist Anything for Obama bias usually get a quick dismissal.

The staff's default response to criticism is "The N&O's fair and accurate.” (That’s also the promotional slogans the N&O uses when drumming up advertising contracts.)

Sometimes an editor or reporter will go so far as to tell readers, “It’s you who have the bias.” I know that first hand.

With that as background, let’s turn to G. D. Gearino’s eponymous blog. Gearino’s a career journalists and prize-winning author who some years back worked at the N&O as a business editor and columnist. He has many friends at the paper.

Here’s part of a recent Gearino post - "The curtain pulled aside" - with my comments below the star line.

From Gearino - - -

… It’s common for a top editor at the N&O to send out an inter-office note most days celebrating the high points of that morning’s paper (as well as occasionally pointing out a lapse).

Among the staff, those notes prompt a daily exercise in something very close to Kremlinology, as they are pondered and studied for clues as to which way the management wind blows.

Below is [executive editor John Drescher's] note that was distributed to the staff yesterday, reprinted here as I received it. I will make no comment, lest I sway your judgment on what it reveals about the people who oversee the most influential newspaper in the state. But feel free to share your thoughts.:

A few comments on some good work in today’s paper:

–A lively front page that gave our readers plenty to talk about.

Has the political right truly turned the corner and will cease to demonize opponents on so-called moral issues, or are we witnessing the boldest, most cynical, most hypocritical political spin in modern history?

What is one to make of John McCain’s greeting at the Twin Cities airport yesterday of America’s most famous baby mama with a warm hug, and the apparent attaboy pat on the shoulder for the self-described “f***ing redneck” baby daddy?

Are we now celebrating teenagers’ raging hormones?

The claims department feature (see 8a) is a great reader service. I would like to see more scrutiny of the “facts” in Sarah Palin’s speech last night.

Now to our local politicians….Is Kenn Gardner just an inept liar or a man so greedy that he doesn’t care whether we think he’s an inept liar as long as he gets paid?

–A newsy and entertaining Triangle&Co. front.

I’d bet that Barry Saunders is hearing a lot of amens this morning as well as feeling a lot of hate. Good. A columnist should stir ‘em up.

Much of America may have forgotten, but the black community has a very long memory of Republicans demonizing black unwed moms. The black wire–radio and a growing black blogesphere–is crackling this morning with wicked “Juno” jokes.

In general, black bloggers ( A warning to the easily offended, the name is a big clue) are having a great time with the GOP show in Minneapolis.

–Lots of interesting people stories in the sports section about college athletes and the pros. For those following tennis’ sibling rivalry, Serena has gained a slight lead by beating older sister Venus in the U.S. Open quarterfinals.

–Good, timely story–and an inviting headline (Life over breasts)– on the Life, etc. cover.
Gearino's entire post is here.



You can read the Barry Saunders column to which Drescher refers here.

I've left the following comment (tweaked here for context clarity) on the thread of "The curtain pulled aside"

I’m in general agreement with the commenter above who says:

“This editor’s e-mail reveals what many N&O and general media critics say; that they are nothing more than left wing mudslingers. When an editor of the paper is comfortable enough sending a condescending, clearly slanted viewpoint to the organization, it is not a difficult leap to suspect that same slant and attitude will influence the content of the paper.”

Sure, there are no doubt N&O reporters and editors who do their best to steer clear of “left wing mudsling[ing],” but an executive editor sets the tone for a newsroom.

Drescher’s email reads like something would circulate as the day’s talking points; and I think it’s fair to say most people at the N&O will want to go with the bosses “talking points.”

Drescher asks rhetorically: “What is one to make of John McCain’s greeting at the Twin Cities airport yesterday of America’s most famous baby mama with a warm hug, and the apparent attaboy pat on the shoulder for the self-described “f***ing redneck” baby daddy? Are we now celebrating teenagers’ raging hormones?”

I would ask Drescher and other journalists: “What is one to make of the N&O’s decision to withhold from its Mar. 25, 2006 front page story it said, with no suggestion of doubt, was about a woman’s “ordeal” which ended “in sexual violence,” the news it had of the Duke lacrosse players' extensive cooperation with police; and instead promulgate what it knew was the “wall of solidarity” lie which almost immediately morphed into the “wall of silence” lie?

What is one to make of Ruth Sheehan’s Mar. 27, 2006 “Team’s silence is sickening” McCarthyite screed hyping the “wall of silence” lie? [Disclosure: Some months later Sheehan apologized to the players for the column. In “It’s Not About the Truth,” pub. in Apr. 2007 she’s quoted extensively explaining how Mike Nifong served as the anonymous source for her Mar. 27 column with the N&O newsroom having passed on to her from Nifong the false information on which she based her column. No one at the N&O has denied what Sheehan’s quoted as saying. Publisher Orage Quarles emailed me saying only that the N&O doesn’t talk about it anonymous sources.]

I thank G. D. Gearino for putting Drescher’s disturbing email out there.

I wish Drescher would come on the thread, explain it and answer questions.

Thank you.

John in Carolina

An N&O reader left a comment at the N&O's Editors' blog but its received no response.

That's nothing new.

I'll continue working this story.

What do you folks think?


Anonymous said...

The major daily here on the Outer Banks of NC is The Virginian-Pilot which, like the N&O, is a biased, leftwing proud member of the St. Barack Tank Corps. Like the N&O, the V-P doesn't respond to questions about its biased reporting, and considers the questioners biased. The V-P publishes an occasional editorial cartoon that is other than leftwing, and has some "front office conservative columnists," but the editorial page lists so far to the left it nearly tilts my kitchen table when I try to read it. Dowd and Krugman are not only predictable, they're absolutlely boring. I learned long ago that writing letters and asking questions gets me nowhere, so I gave up.
I respect you greatly for your persistence, but I wonder what you could accomplish if you were to spend all that time and energy doing something that had some likelihood of success. You must realize your efforts to get the N&O to admit guilt and to mend its ways are for naught. One should never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel.
Tarheel Hawkeye

Anonymous said...

I think you need to reread Gearino's post, John. It never says Drescher wrote the note. I know for a fact he didn't.

bill anderson said...


I will say that the internal email was stunning to me, and it was also an example of just how partisan the supposedly "objective" N&O staff really is.

I'm with you, in that after reading it, I am not surprised at all that the N&O would play an active role in trying to frame innocent people of rape because of the color of their skin, and the location of their home addresses.

Anonymous said...

I'm a former N&Oer and can tell you on good source that the writer of memo wasn't Drescher, but was another editor at the paper.

GF said...

N&O public editor Ted Vaden is not responding to questions about this either. In light of the recent firestorm the N&O helped create regarding Johnston Co. Sheriff Steve Bizzell, it is even more infuriating that the N&O can target public figures but remain immune when their own bias is exposed. My trust in the N&O is all but erased now, and I feel somewhat naive for ever seeing the N&O as a credible news source.